Meet Rusburger, Crimea's New Kremlin-Approved Answer To McDonald's

Hey, remember back when McDonald's' days in Crimea ended — around the time that Russia recalled its ambassador to NATO? Now, a new fast-food chain is taking its place: Rusburger. Rusburger bills itself as providing the "Taste of Russia," and says it only uses Russian ingredients, like local vegetables, cheese, and veal. One of the items on their menu is called the "Czar Cheeseburger." According to Bloomberg, the restaurants will also be serving pear lemonade instead of soda. Is it just us, or is this sounding fancy?

In early April, when U.S.-Russian relations were quickly deteriorating, McDonald's announced it would be leaving Crimea. The situation was fraught: People in Crimea were struggling to preserve sovereignty, Russian troops were clashing with Ukrainian soldiers, and apparently no one was in the mood for a Big Mac. Officially, McDonalds said they were leaving due to difficulties acquiring ingredients. This seems reasonable given that around the same time people in Crimea were struggling to find gas to heat their homes. So, maybe ketchup was hard to come by.

Since April, Ukraine has gained a new president, Putin has gained points in approval ratings thanks to his invasion of Crimea, and the people of Crimea have gained a new fast food chain: Rusburger. Rusburger is confident that they won't experience the same food shortage problems McDonald's did, because they'll rely mainly on local ingredients.

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The restaurant will open in a former McDonald's outlet, and is taking over where some people thought Burger King might move in. According to the BBC, the CEO of Burger King's Russia operation had announced they would be willing to fill the void after McDonald's left. Apparently, they had more faith in their ability to make a Big King (their version of a Big Mac) out of Russian veal and vegetables.

One day later, however, the company rescinded their statement. We guess they glanced at the newspaper, saw that tens of thousands of Russian troops were poised to take over more of Ukraine, and realized Crimea might not be the best place to invest.

Rusburger doesn't seem worried, though. Russian news outlets anticipate that the restaurant will be open by the end of July, and a quick glance at this bizarre Rusburger advertisement provides a sneak preview at the kind of food and customers we can expect to see enjoying the local grub. We're not certain why everything is on fire, but we like that guy's turtleneck a lot.

If Rusburger represents Russia's growing economic influence on Ukraine, everyone should be worried. After all, there's no way Ronald McDonald can take this guy in a fight.